Three men face charges after a big seizure of undersized paua in Hawke's Bay that prompted a warning from officials about the future of the fishery there.
Fisheries officers say they seized more than 600 illegally taken paua in Hawke's Bay in the past few days and only three met the legal size limit.
Three men will face charges under the Fisheries Act, which carry fines of up to $250,000. If convicted, they will also have their vehicles forfeited to the Crown.
"Taking such large quantities of paua has the potential to seriously affect the sustainability of the paua fishery," says Ray McKay, the Ministry for Primary Industries district compliance manager for Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa.
Paua grows very slowly and daily limits ensure enough survive to sustain the fishery, he says.
"What we've found this week has been a shock and a huge disappointment especially because all of the paua had come from one area: the south end of Blackhead Beach," Mr McKay says.